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“The wise man knows himself to be a fool”: Acting graduate Krish Natarajan on making theatre that entertains and provokes

Krish-Natarajan

Youth theatre company Patch and Punnet enjoys ‘playing the fool’. While this description may lead some to expect their work to be little more than frivolous entertainment, this young theatre company’s body of work speaks to the subversive potential of foolishness—where fools speak unexpected wisdom and irreverence masks difficult truths. 

Co-founded by Krish Natarajan, a graduate from LASALLE’s BA(Hons) Acting programme, the millennial company is interested in exploring a simple question: what does it mean to make good theatre? Beyond the technical or artistic qualities of a theatre production, it is about the fundamental value proposition that theatre provides to a paying audience. 

Traditional dichotomies of theatre may point to it as being either escapist entertainment, empty spectacle, cheap sentimentality or a vehicle for provocation and stirring up the status quo – aimed at challenging audiences and creating a sense of unease. Patch and Punnet, however, believes that theatre can be both: while entertainment should be a necessary factor in any theatrical experience, Patch and Punnet wants to provoke and tease through irreverence and humour.

“We feel that what the industry is missing is Patch and Punnet’s unique brand of ‘get drunk and have a good time’ theatre,” Krish explains. “The sort that provides the public with a fresh and novel way of spending their Saturday evenings, while serving as a gateway into the more esoteric, intellectual or otherwise niche forms of theatre which oftentimes goes unnoticed by the wider community.”

kirsh

Krish in A Requiem for Change (2018), a LASALLE production in collaboration with the David Glass Ensemble.

Having co-founded Patch and Punnet in 2017 during his undergraduate days, Krish reflects on how he has been able to apply what he learnt from his studies to his theatre practice. “LASALLE definitely gave me a toolkit for performing, the confidence to play on stage and just do without worrying about failing.” 

He also credits LASALLE for the community of fellow theatre practitioners whose talent, time and advice he could tap on. “My talented classmates Jit Dastidar, Lynn Chia and Valerie Teh were all crucial to the growth of Patch and Punnet. They contributed their time and effort to make the company what it is today.”

Jit and Lynn were both part of the ensemble cast for the production The Adventures of Abhijeet, which premiered at the Esplanade Annexe Studio in January 2019 as part of the prestigious M1 SIngapore Fringe Festival. The play opened to warm reviews and signalled Patch and Punnet as a rising theatre company to watch out for.

Krish’s classmates

Krish’s classmates, Jit Dastidar and Lynn Chia (first and second from left), in The Adventures of Abhijeet

More exciting projects lie ahead for the fledgling theatre company. Wild Rice recently announced that Patch and Punnet will be the first beneficiary of the theatre group’s new residency programme. As Company-in-Residence, Patch and Punnet will receive access to rehearsal space, dramaturgical support and arts management advice from the Wild Rice team.

Krish looks forward to the residency as a means to refining Patch and Punnet’s concepts and ideas as well as building long-term capacity for the growing company. “We look forward to growing dramaturgically and honing our devising processes while also learning the administrative skills required in the running of a company. We are also excited about being in Wild Rice’s beautiful Funan space!”